News & Promotions

  • 12/10/2014
    Gift Certificates - The Perfect Deer Hunter Gift
    Posted by admin
    Still have to play Santa and need a good idea for the hunter in your family? A gift certificate for a whitetail hunt at Heartland Lodge is a perfect Christmas gift for that special someone on your list! This unique gift will be one that they will never fo
  • Book Your 2015 Whitetail Hunt Now!
    12/9/2014
    Book Your 2015 Whitetail Hunt Now!
    Posted by admin
    Now is the time to reserve your 2015 whitetail deer hunting dates, especially if you want to come during a prime time!! We have some great hunting dates available, but they won't last long! The 2015 season should be one of the best in many years. If yo
  • Two Awesome Bucks Out of The Same Treestand!
    11/4/2013
    Two Awesome Bucks Out of The Same Treestand!
    Posted by admin
    For the past two years John Brewer has spent the first week of November at Harpole’s Heartland Lodge. Many of our hunters have a favorite week, and they return to camp at that time every year. The reason for creating this habit may be based on previous
  • View All

Tips from our Experts

  • Here Comes the Fall...
    8/27/2014
    Here Comes the Fall...
    Posted by admin
    This time of the year is an exciting time for whitetail hunters. September marks the start of many states deer hunting season and for others it is the final month countdown to go time. With all of this anticipation there is usually a flurry of activity
  • The Quiet Gobbler
    5/23/2014
    The Quiet Gobbler
    Posted by admin
    Well as sad as it is for me to say this; my turkey season has now come to a close. The 2014 Turkey Season was a successful one and added many new stories that I will treasure for years to come. From successful youth hunts, some first time gobblers, and s
  • Deer Herd Health in the Midwest
    1/15/2014
    Deer Herd Health in the Midwest
    Posted by admin
    I guess one could say that I stay in tune with the whitetail deer hunting world all year long. I visit hunting forums, social media, websites, read magazines, and subscribe to various blogs and e-articles. I don’t have outdoor television programming at
  • View All

Recent Blogs

  • Four Keys to Opening Weekend of Whitetail Gun Season
    11/15/2014
    Four Keys to Opening Weekend of Whitetail Gun Season
    Posted by admin
    4 keys to Opening Weekend of Gun Season Opening Weekend of gun season has a special engrained meaning in the hearts of all hunters. Food, fellowship, anticipation for the first light of opening morning. When the initial shot crashes the air
  • 3.5 Things to Do When You Kill a Doe
    10/22/2014
    3.5 Things to Do When You Kill a Doe
    Posted by admin
    3.5 things to do when you kill a doe Shooting does, we understand the importance for herd management, the fantastic eating and confidence boosters. We also understand what they mean to big bucks. But are we really taking full advantage of does on
  • The Tools for Deer Scrape Manipulation
    10/22/2014
    The Tools for Deer Scrape Manipulation
    Posted by admin
    The Tools for Deer Scrape Manipulation Nurse……Scalpel. You hear line this in many TV hospital dramas. Doctors have many instruments to choose from when in the operating room and when it comes time to doctoring a scrape, do you have the proper instru
  • 9/30/2014
    Checking A Tree Stand
    Posted by admin
    Checking A Stand In theory, we should all have checked our tree stands before the hunting season starts, to cut shooting lanes, and to check on the status of your stands. But what if you haven’t had time? I fully understand many hunters do not have
  • View All

Testimonials

  • Every time I come it's harder to leave.  I feel like this place is my home away from home!  I always speak highly of this place and do my best to get the word around.  It means a lot to me that everyone on staff treats me as their friend.  The personal touch and getting to come hunt with my friends is what keeps me coming back
    - Jim Palermo
  • Thank you so much for a wonderful stay (again).  Your staff is impeccable and like family.  Many thanks to Yankee for all he does for the guest. Many thanks to your incredible chefs, I now fear I will starve to death when I go home.
    - Geoff Duncan, Decatur, IL
  • We didn't know what to expect when we arrived.  It didn't take long to realize that we had made an Excellent decision to come here!  Everything is wonderful: food, rooms and the staff is off the charts!!!  Our entire experience was so nice.  A return visit is for sure in our future!!
    - Gil Hubbard, Sugar Grove, IL
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Illinois Gun Hunts

Illinois firearm whitetail hunting, especially in Pike County, has been a tradition at Heartland that dates back to when Heartland’s owner, Gary Harpole, grew up hunting as a child.  The anticipation of opening day of Illinois whitetail gun season was more exciting than any holiday or occasion. The firearm season was spent at Gary’s Grandpa’s house. (This home still stands next to Heartland and now Gary resides there.) The Illinois gun season always opens on a Friday and all the local schools close for the occasion. Gary grew up in Quincy, but just the same, he would get excused from school and make the exciting drive to the area where Heartland Lodge is now located.

The excitement was shared not only by Gary and his grandfather, but his entire family and relatives. Uncles, aunts, cousins and friends would all stop in at “Grandpa’s House” to catch up on the latest “deer stories.” Saturday night, everyone would bring the wild game they harvested and cook a feast fit for a king.  The hunts themselves were always memorable. Nothing was as exciting as sitting on a log, or a five gallon bucket, (before they installed tree stands) watching that monster buck appear at first light and feeling your heart pound as if it was going to come out of your chest.  The “meat pole” was always the tree in Grandpa’s front yard. It was a tradition in Pike County as everyone drove around looking to see what their neighbors brought in. Best of all were the traditions and memories Gary made with his Grandpa and family that will last a lifetime.

Those same traditions are being carried on at Heartland Lodge. Gun season is a very special time at Heartland. The evening meal and orientation meeting the night before is filled with anticipation and excitement. Many whitetail hunters will be hunting the same properties that Gary’s family did for generations. Most importantly, are the new traditions that are being developed with fathers and sons, grandpas and grandsons, and friends that will last a lifetime.

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Whitetail Photos

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New Lodge Virtual Tour

Rooms Virtual Tour

 

Illinois Firearm Hunting Seasons

Gun Seasons:

Illinois first gun season always falls in November on the weekend before Thanksgiving. Opening day is on a Friday and the season ends on Sunday. These three days normally fall during the peak of the rut, creating some exciting days in the stand!  Illinois second gun season always falls the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend (normally the first weekend in December). The second gun season starts on a Thursday and ends on the Sunday.  If colder weather moves in, this hunt can be very productive for large whitetail bucks, plus you get an extra day of hunting. You can use approved shotguns, muzzleloaders and pistols during the first two firearm seasons.  Archery hunting is not allowed during these firearm seasons.

Late Muzzleloader Season:

Illinois muzzleloader-only season falls on the weekend following the second guns season. This season starts on Friday and ends on Sunday. Only approved muzzleloaders are allowed. You can archery hunt during the muzzleloader only season when you have an Illinois archery permit.

Our combo Archery/Muzzleloader hunt is very popular during this time. Its a seven night, six day package. You can either archery hunt three days before the muzzleloader season, then hunt the three days of muzzleloader or you can hunt with your bow the three days following the muzzleloader season. You can harvest a buck with your bow and your gun!

Late Winter Antlerless Season:

Illinois has seven days that is designated for deer management and the harvesting of does only. These doe hunting dates are also split between two weekends.  The first weekend starts normally on the last Thursday of the calendar year and ends on Sunday. The second season falls at the end of our deer season, normally in mid January, and opens on Friday and ends on Sunday.  Approved shotguns, muzzleloaders, and pistols can be used during this season.

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Illinois Whitetails

Illinois Gun Hunt Pike County What makes Illinois such a great deer hunting state? There are many factors, but low pressure and great genetics, along with a healthy age structure, make Illinois the best destination for hunting mature whitetails. Within Illinois, Pike County is the premier county for trophy whitetails. Pike County is located in between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers. This fertile land has all the minerals whitetails need, along with an abundance of agriculture mixed in with just the right amount of hardwoods and cover that whitetails desire.  All whitetails are free roaming when hunting at Heartland Lodge.

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The Heartland Lodge Difference

What makes us different than all the other outfitters in Illinois and the Mid-West?

  1. Pike County Illinois Whitetail GunLong-term deer management.  Most of our whitetail properties have been under our management for 10+ years. Some for 20+ years!  
  2. No smoke-and-mirrors marketing. All of our deer photos and trail cam photos are from our hunters and properties. Many outfitters post photos of friends’ and families’ deer, along with trail cam photos on properties you will never be hunting.   
  3. Our guides do not hunt the properties. Many outfitters allow their guides to hunt the same stands and properties as the hunters decreasing your opportunities.  
  4. Personal Service.  We stay “small” by choice and only have one deer camp/lodge. We like to develop long term friendships with all of our hunters. You will see the owner every day at the lodge. Low pressure and low volume on our properties keeps those mature whitetails from going nocturnal. Many outfitters run a high volume operation and you are just a number to them. We want you to be just as excited to return to Heartland as when you first arrived.
  5. Hunting Tradition - Your stay with us is more than a deer hunt. It’s part of a strong hunting tradition that started back when Heartland’s owner Gary Harpole was a child. Each year new traditions are being created by our guests. It’s our hope that you create your own memories at Heartland with your family or friends and carry on a tradition that started many years ago.  

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Firearm Permits in Illinois

Purchasing your firearm permit for the first two seasons or late muzzleloader season is a very easy process. All Illinois residents can apply in the first lottery that normally ends at the end of May.  All nonresidents and Illinois residents can apply in the second lottery that normally ends August 15th. If you apply in either one of these drawings you should receive a permit. All leftover permits are then sold online or at a licensed vender until they are sold out.

Firearm permits come with one either-sex tag. For an additional small charge, a doe-only tag can be added.

The late season doe permits can be purchased online or at a licensed vendor for residents. If you are a nonresident and want to hunt one of these seasons, you must purchase a doe permit for one of the first firearms seasons. These permits are allowed to be used for the late doe season.  In recent years, Pike County has been an unlimited county, meaning you can harvest as many does as you would like, as long as you have a deer permit for each one.

For more information on our deer hunts go to our main Whitetail deer hunting page.

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